Sony ZV-1 Compact Camera Review – Best Vlogging Camera

Sony is already quite popular in the vlogging space as its previously released Sony RX100 series and Sony RX0 Mark II cameras are widely used for making vlogs by popular vloggers. They have recently unveiled the Sony ZV-1 compact camera which has caught the attention of many aspiring vloggers.

The Sony ZV-1 is the first-ever proper vlogging camera manufactured by Sony. While the Sony ZV-1 is quite similar to Sony’s Cybershot camera options, it’s large RS CMOS sensor and exclusive Bionz X image processor makes it applicable for a versatile set of applications.

Today, we will take a thorough look at Sony’s first vlogging-centric camera and decide whether it’s actually worth its premium price tag. But first, let’s talk about all of the things you can do with the Sony ZV-1 Compact Camera.

Features of the Sony ZV-1 Compact Camera

Now that you know what you need in a vlogging camera, let’s see what Sony ZV-1 offers. Even though it is rather a fresh arrival in the market, Sony has made sure that Sony ZV-1 is fierce competition for other vlogging cameras. With the following fantastic set of specifications, you will surely understand why Sony ZV-1 is aspiring to be the best vlogging camera right now.

Amazing 20.1 MP 1″ Exmor RS BSI CMOS Sensor

The sensor available on any camera is the only link between the actual scene and the image developed by the camera. The sensor intakes all of the data available on the scene and sends it to the image processor for image development.

By now, you must know the importance of a large sensor on digital cameras. With Sony ZV-1, you will be getting a 20.1 megapixel 1” Exmor RS CMOS sensor. As this sensor utilizes an advanced stacked structure and features an integrated DRAM chip, it can deliver outstanding performance. You must have seen a very high ISO range on many cameras by now.

But, for taking shots at such a high ISO setting, you will need a high capacity lens such as the BSI CMOS Sensor available with Sony ZV-1. Even the front-end LSI on this enhanced camera sensor improves overall image quality, especially while using it on a higher sensitivity.

  • ZEISS 24-70mm-Equiv. f/1.8-2.8 Lens

It is always better to find a permanent, high-quality stock lens on a certain camera rather than browsing the variety of lenses and selecting which one is better for your needs. The Zeiss lens series from Sony is premium and widely used not just for DSLR and mirrorless cameras, but also for the most premium flagship smartphones.

With such a wide adoption rate, you can probably realize the versatility of the lens in terms of various applications. The Zeiss lens used in Sony ZV-1 cameras is particularly focused on video performance as it has an equivalent range of 24mm all the way up to 70 mm. As vlogging cameras are supposed to be compact and lightweight, the lens comes with a retractable form factor.

This lens can isolate a certain object completely from its surroundings using a shallow depth of field technique. With a complete focus on a particular object, the lens develops a distinguishable field of blur around the object. With the implemented autofocus technology, you will see much fewer aberrations and distortions around the edges, especially between the blurry and focused edge. This helps you to achieve high sharpness and accuracy while rendering a high-resolution image.

Real-Time Tracking & Eye AF

The real-time eye tracking can track human as well as animal eyes throughout the scene so that the subject always stays in focus even if there is a lot of motion in the video capture. This helps a lot while shooting a vlog as you are always moving, and there is a lot of disturbance in the frame if you are manually handling the camera.

On top of that, Sony ZV-1 uses a fast hybrid autofocus system that dramatically improves the autofocus speed for both images and videos. It uses up to 315 phase-detection points that cover almost 65% of the frame at once.


Background Defocus & Face Priority AE

Setting up a scene is surely a tough job as you have to wait around for the lens to intake the data and then set up the focus so that both the primary and secondary subjects are in focus while the rest of the scene is blurred.

Although, this is not the case with Sony ZV-1 that features a background defocus technology, which is really helpful as you can quickly defocus the irrelevant objects in the frame, keeping yourself and the appropriate background in sharp focus.

You can also program one of the custom keys to operate on a background defocus tool so that you can switch between defocus and clear mode with just a press of a key. Although it’s much easier on the automatic mode when you are vlogging as the focus will always be preferred on the face instead of other objects via the face priority AE feature.

Directional 3-Capsule Mic & Mic Jack

If we are talking about productive or informative video content like vlogging, you should not neglect the audio quality as it needs to be equally as good as the video itself. With the Sony ZV-1, Sony has decided to include a directional 3 capsule mic built into the camera.

The outer body of the camera is designed in such a way that it enables spatial audio filtering and allows you to record clear audio from the front side of the camera only. Most of the time, you will find yourself in the middle of a loud crowd while shooting a vlog in popular destinations. In such a case, you will surely utilize this great built-in mic to its full potential as there is a windscreen included in the package.

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UHD 4K30p Video with HLG & S-Log3 Gammas

4K is slowly becoming the industry standard threshold for entertainment. Even with vlogging, most of the successful and popular vloggers upload true 4K content on their channels. If you are a professional vlogger, it is time to upgrade to a better camera with true 4K capture capability.

With the Sony ZV-1, you will be able to record immensely detailed 4K videos in a very high dynamic range that gives the perfect color accuracy and lets every clip come to life. If you wish to confirm this camera’s dynamic range compatibility, you can take a look at its S-Log gamma curve.

The S-Log 3 gamma curve available with Sony ZV-1 allows for better reproduction of color grades and mid-tone shadows as compared to S-Log2.

3.0″ Side Flip-Out Touchscreen LCD

The electronic viewfinders display the content on a digital screen available on the rear side of the camera. While most of the digital screens available with premium options are great, you should still check out its color accuracy to be on the safe side. Also, make sure that the display is adjustable to multiple angles as it allows you to set up the camera on much harder angles while maintaining a perfect view of the display.

The digital viewfinder on Sony ZV-1 displays the image on a 3.0” flip-out LCD screen that is highly articulated and capable of setting up at almost any angle possible. The display itself is capable of moving in two axes independently. The opening angle for this display is 176° degrees, while the rotation angle is approximately 270°.

BIONZ X Image Processor

Apart from the lens and the image sensor, you should also carefully check the internal hardware built into the camera. One of the most important hardware which significantly affects image quality is the image processor. With premium brands like Sony, you will get the best image processors that are available in the high-end options without any compromises.

The 20.1 MP sensor is paired with Sony’s exclusive Bionz X image processor, which is arguably one of the fastest image processors available in digital cameras. You will only find the Bionz X image processor with Sony’s camera models that ensure high image quality in almost any condition.

The front-end LSI paired with the processors helps to speed up the entire imaging system and allows up to 24 fps continuous shooting speed. Even while actually capturing 24 clicks under a second, you will not face any distortion or focus problems.

This will enable you to get true 4K video capture with the highest color accuracy thanks to its HDR compatibility.  Also, these high-end image processors feature smart AI technology that can keep the focus on more than one object at once with the smooth focus switching with just a single touch.

Product Showcase Setting

While the autofocus capabilities of the Sonny ZV-1 compact camera is already on par with many professional cameras on the market, it features a new shooting mode called product showcase setting.

By enabling this feature, the camera disables the stabilization and gives you ultra-fast focus switching between you and any object that you point at the camera. The focus is instantaneously switched to the object, no matter how small it is. Once you remove the object from the frame, you can revert back to your original setting within a split second because of Sony’s ultra-fast real-time autofocus.

What’s In The Box?

There are a lot more accessories that are needed after purchasing a high-end camera to be able to use it properly. Although buying essential accessories for a premium camera does not make a lot of sense as you are already investing a couple of hundred bucks in the camera itself. This should not be a problem for Sony ZV-1 users as this camera comes with all of the necessary items included in the package.

Here are all of the things you will find in the box:

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While most of the above-mentioned accessories are not a big deal as they are available with almost every camera, the GP-VPT2B2 Bluetooth grip is surely a helpful tool for daily content creators and especially vloggers. It is a very premium camera grip available from Sony, specially designed for compact cameras like Sony ZV-1.

While the grip itself is quite small and compact in nature, it features wireless connectivity with the camera so that no cables are tangling in between. It can also work as a Bluetooth remote to trigger any camera feature while you are away from it.

Buying a decent camera from a premium brand like Sony has its advantages. For starters, if you feel like you will need more accessories according to your preferred use, you can simply head over to the Sony store and choose from a variety of extra accessories available for all Sony cameras, including the Sony ZV-1. To give you a little preview, here are some of the accessories you can buy from Sony:

  • Memory Cards
  • Battery Chargers
  • Extra Batteries
  • Carrying Cases and Bags
  • External Microphones
  • Gimbal Stabilizers
  • Screen Protectors
  • Flashes
  • Shutter releases
  • Support Straps
  • External Video Recorders

And much more!

Why Go With Sony ZV-1 Compact Camera Instead of Other Options?

  • Professional 4K HDR

First of all, it has a highly powerful sensor that is paired with a decent lens kit, which will surely allow you to use the camera for more than a decade without needing to upgrade it. One of the many reasons that make this camera future proof is the professional 4K recording capability that brings you to the front in the content competition. You will be able to provide high-quality content and create your own fan base right from the beginning. You will also get a very high dynamic range on this camera, which can be confirmed via its S-Log 3 gamma curve.

  • Built-in ND filter

There is a built-in Neutral Density (ND) filter on the Sony ZV-1, which can surely expand your creativity to a new level. The neutral density filters allow many tweaks over the camera lens, such as video exposure control, depth of field enhancement, and some very special effects such as magical slow shutter speed that can capture even the motion of water seamlessly.

  • High-Speed Transitions

Transitions are one of the most vital parts of any content, whether it focuses on entertainment or for educational purposes. Generally, the transitions are created in the editing process as most of the cameras are unable to switch focus from one subject to object or vice versa. Fortunately, Sony ZV-1 seems like a permanent solution for that problem as it can handle real-time transitions quite well with its fast hybrid AF system.

  • Bokeh Capabilities

While taking a portrait image, the majority of the users prefer a bokeh mode as it introduces a defocused layer for the background and lets you get all of the attention in the photo. Although getting the perfect bokeh effect is quite tedious in general cameras as they require manual lens control.

On the Sony ZV-1, you get a dedicated switch on the front that enables or disables the bokes mode. Now, you can take professional-looking defocused background images or keep the whole scene in focus with just a press of a button.

  • Slow-motion Performance

If you want to take a deeper look at some high paced action footage, you will need slow-motion video compatibility in the camera. To bring that on a professional camera, Sony has included super slow-motion support on the Sony ZV-1 vlogging camera.

The super slow motion on the Sony ZV-1 can record up to 40 times slower than real-time to give an astounding detail to even the smallest moments that are captured within 5 seconds. And, as the slow-motion video is recorded in 960 FPS, you will capture every single moment without missing.

  • Time-Lapse Effect

In Sony ZV-1, the time-lapse mode automatically sequences the images from 1 second apart all the way up to 60 seconds apart, depending on the length of time-lapse. This feature really comes in handy for converting laborious footage into an interesting one.

  • Image Stabilization

Stable video footage is the key to keep the viewer’s attention focused as any distortion in the footage makes it unwatchable. While vlogging, you are either walking, running, riding, or moving the camera constantly that introduces a lot of disturbance to the camera.

Fortunately, this is not a problem with Sony ZV-1 as it features built-in image stabilization. Even without a professional gimbal, built-in image stabilization allows you to capture highly stable video. You can experience the advantages of image stabilization, even with pictures, while taking a shot from a moving vehicle.

  • Limitless creativity

Sony ZV-1 has a lot of effects and creative image filters built into its UI. These effects are ordinarily achieved in the editing process. But, with Sony ZV-1, you can take a look at the effect in real-time before clicking the picture so that you can adjust the lighting and camera angle according to the filter being used. The variety of these creative effects ranging from simple monochrome effects all the way up to complex miniature effects, including partial color modes.

Best Vlogging Features of Sony ZV-1 Camera 

As it is one of the few options dedicated to vlogging, it has many advantages over other point and shoot cameras. Apart from being compact and lightweight, it allows freehand use and allows you to capture videos without any complicated setup. Even if you are a beginner and wish to build a career in vlogging, you will be all set with Sony’s latest vlogging camera, The Sony ZV-1. Here are some of the assets that make it an impeccable companion for vlogging.

  • Get A Better Perspective of your content

The display can be flipped horizontally so that you can have a real-time feed of what’s being recorded from the lens while being in the frame. It can also be tilted accordingly to compensate for the camera angle. Being free from any ports or cables, it gives you precise control via the included grip while shooting.

  • Beautiful and Natural Skin Tones

The color accuracy on Sony ZV-1 is quite good as it intakes a lot of data from its large sensor and wide aperture. This surely makes the colors look more vibrant as well as maintain their natural shade for better color accuracy. As expected, this has a positive impact on vlogging as the camera is capable of displaying beautiful and natural skin tones without any problem. You will also get an option called soft skin effect that will significantly smoothen your skin.

  • Background Bokeh mode for Video

While shooting a vlog, you can decide to enable the bokeh mode for the video while you are talking to your audience as it will blur the unnecessary details from the front frame, so the user’s attention does not slip away from you. Even in challenging low light conditions, you can get a professional bokeh effect, which will surely highlight the finest of details available on the subject in focus.

  • Best Autofocus in its class

Sony promises to deliver the best autofocus compatibility within all of its Sony digital camera lineup, and the Sony ZV-1 certainly does not disappoint in that category. Sony claims to have implemented the fastest autofocus technology on the Sony ZV-1, which can be seen via its product showcase feature.

While focusing, it detects the eyes via the help of AI autofocus technology and allows focus tracking irrespective of the camera movement or the changes in the scene. This can certainly be an advantage while vlogging as you can use the camera in almost any condition and expect similarly high-end results whatsoever.

  • Audio gets as good as the video

Thanks to the built-in 3-capsules mic, Sony ZV-1 comes as a complete package for vlogging. It is useless to shoot a vlog in a crowded place if you have a generic camera as you will either end up with a lot of background noise or will be forced to buy a better microphone.

The Sony ZV-1, on the other hand, is perfectly suited for outdoor shooting as the capsule mic uses a spatial audio recording technique to record only the front of the camera, automatically eliminating the background noise.

  • Sharing Made Easier

Unlike other video content, vlogs do not have a limitation on the content that is going to be filmed. Hence, the total content for 1 vlog can go as high as a couple of terabytes, considering the days included in the shoot.

Hence, Sony ZV-1 gives its users a couple of different options to share the content easily to a storage device. Apart from the support for a high capacity storage drive, it comes with a micro USB cable that you can use to connect it to a laptop or a computer to transfer the footage quickly.

As for the images, you can use the EdgeTM Mobile app, which is available for both iOS as well as Android devices. This application allows you to quickly transfer captured images to your smartphone wirelessly and do finer editing before uploading on social media platforms. You can use the Movie Edit add-on available for the app that is especially useful for vloggers as you can stabilize shaky shots, reframe videos, or crop short videos quickly to upload it from wherever you are.

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